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Bangladesh burning, mutiny spreads

Mutinies by the paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) have broken out in various towns around the country even as BDR violence in the capital Dhaka was being contained, police and witnesses said on Thursday.

There were shooting incidents involving BDR troops in more than half a dozen towns including Feni, Teknaf, Satkania, Sylhet, Dinajpur and Naogaon, local police officials told Reuters reporters. No death or injuries were reported immediately.

Nearly 50 people were killed when Bangladesh paramilitary troops fought among themselves during a mutiny in their headquarters over a pay dispute, a government minister said on Thursday.

“The situation inside (the BDR complex) is calm but tense.” Officials said 50 stranded women and children had been evacuated from the headquarters. Agriculture Minister Begum Motia Chowdhury entered on Thursday morning, and she would try to bring out families of army officers and soldiers still stranded there, officials said.

The mutinous soldiers have been laying down their arms after accepting an offer of amnesty from the government, but the uprising in the capital Dhaka on Wednesday underscores the challenges facing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Hasina won parliamentary elections in December that returned the impoverished country to democracy after nearly two years of army-backed emergency rule, and the incident is a blow to her efforts to attract foreign investment and convince foreign aid donors the country is on a path to stability.

Bangladesh, home to more than 140 million people, has had several military coups since independence in 1971.

“Nearly 50 people have been killed in sporadic fighting in the headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR),” Mohammad Quamrul Islam, state minister for law and parliamentary affairs, told reporters.

He said all weapons would likely be surrendered in the coming hours. But officials waiting outside the BDR headquarters on Thursday morning said the process has been slow.

Television channels showed troops handing over Chinese-made automatic rifles, bullets and grenades to Home Minister Sahara Khatun, who visited the headquarters after talks with the rebels. “The surrender of all the weapons by the rebels may take hours more,” a police officer said, requesting not to be identified.

This article was originally posted on IBNLive

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